Citing the supposed threat posed to national security, a retired Egyptian army general has filed a legal case in his efforts to see UNESCO-listed heritage site St. Catherine’s Monastery demolished, Ahram News website reported Sunday.
Ahmed Ragai Attiya claimed the monastery, in south Sinai, was not historic but built in 2006, adding that the area had become a haven for “foreigners.” Attiya also urged for the deportation of the monastery’s Greek monks as he claimed they jeopardizing Egypt’s national security.
The monastery’s lawyer, Ihab Ramzy, said that in May 2012 Attiya obtained 71 administrative orders to demolish the historic site’s multiple churches, monk living quarters, gardens and other places of interest in the grounds.
Attiya, who founded the Egyptian army’s special operations unit in 1978, said in an interview with private channel ONTV on Thursday that he had recently reinitiated his efforts to destroy the monastery.
The 76-year-old former general said he used the 71 orders to officially file a suit against the monastery and 10 other Egyptian related authorities, including the president, ministers of tourism and antiquities and the governor of the southern Sinai region.
He said he filed the legal case in the northeastern city of Ismailiya’s administrative court.v
He alleged that the monks have changed the names of landmarks in the surrounding area and tried to hide an underground water source known as Moses’ Well, or Oyun Moussa, in Arabic.
He expressed agitation over the monastery’s raising of the Greek flag and foreigners occupying Egyptian land, which he described as a breach of national security and the country’s sovereignty…